“It was a cold and windy winter’s day!”

Every story needs a dramatic start and that particular cliché seems appropriate when on New Year’s Day 2015 Friends for Sharks stepped out to make good on the promise of the previous 2 months of fundraising. At midday Nicholas was due to swim for as long/far as possible in Padstow Harbour in just shorts, rash vest and diving hood – no wetsuit! The water was expected to be around 8 to 9 Celsius and the discovery two days earlier that there had been a thin film of ice on the surface in the early morning was certainly no consolation.

We had a good crowd of friends and family around with some interested locals who happened to be passing keeping an eye on proceedings too. The video above shows clips from the lead up to the swim, parts of the swim itself and my attempts at getting dry and warm after clambering out and I’ll reiterate here a HUGE “Thank You!” to everyone who contributed to our fundraising. The event raised just over £1500 and was enjoyed by everyone barring possibly Kathryn who was concerned for my wellbeing and myself who… well… I’m not sure anyone could enjoy such a swim for the sake of the swim itself.

Final checks.

As some people had pledged per distance that I swam, the further I swam, the more money we would receive and I privately held the goal of 500m in my mind which I expected to take round 15 mins. I had selected to swim across an area that was approximately 40m so I knew that 12 lengths would equate to 480m, and I would then need to reach the slipway which was an additional 50m away.

Once I’d plucked up the courage to drop in I set off at a speed that amazes me when I watch the video. Once I knew the initial shock was over, I slowed to a pace I’d be able to keep up for the duration of the swim. Unfortunately I was finding breathing a little difficult. Whether this was due to the temperature shock, or the slight constriction from the belt used to hold the home-made shark fin on my back I’m not sure but the feeling persisted for about the first 3 lengths.

Eyes screwed shut

12 is a nice number to be counting down for those who like to chop things in to manageable segments and at 3 lengths I was 1/4 of the way through with only one more length from 1/3rd completed. I began to get almost comfortable until half way when I started to feel a little chilled. It’s incredible how helpful people shouting encouragement from the side is though and I felt OK until the end of length 9. The final 3 lengths were quite miserable, especially as I knew I had an additional 50m to swim at the end, but equally I was determined to reach my goal of 500m and I was helped by a couple of people who distracted me by asking questions near the end of length 11.

I don’t remember much of the final stretch towards the slipway. I think I kept my eyes shut for most of it, opening them once every 3 or so strokes to make sure I was heading in the right direction. 12mins 38 seconds after dropping in to the icy harbour water, I stumbled my way up the appropriately named ‘slip’way having swum somewhere between 500m and 550m. Never has a towel and hat looked so inviting!

Support and shark sherpaing courtesy of Kathryns family!

Thanks again to everyone who donated to this swim and those who supported me on the day itself. Next time I swim it will be somewhere warm…

Thanks are also due to the Old Ship Hotel who allowed us to have a collection bucket in their bar. Equally Padstow Harbour commission who gave permission for the swim and especially for providing a safety boat.

Many thanks also go to Martin Groom for putting this video together for us. I felt cold just watching it and couldn’t help but burst out laughing near the end 😉